Writing Effective Meeting Minutes continued

Writing style -Tense and person

There is no fixed style or format for Minutes. The important thing is that the Minutes are a clear record of what happened. It is usual to write in the past tense and use reported speech

meeting-pt-2Write objectively and record what happens. For example you might write;-

“It was agreed that David Salam will prepare a report on XYZ to present to the next meeting “

It is helpful if actions are easily picked up, so you might write an Action note in bold underneath

Action – DS report on XYZ at next meeting

Or you might write

“Tom Smith asked David Salam to prepare a report on XYZ to present to the next meeting “

Action – DS report on XYZ at next meeting

There may be a long discussion on a topic, perhaps even a heated debate. You do not record all of that, you wait for the agenda point to be settled and then briefly summarise the outcome. If there is particularly long discussion and some dissension or heated debate you might say for example;-
“After some discussion it was decided that the equipment should be purchased “

These are the kind of points the Chair will want to decide before the minutes are distributed. You make your record and then take advice from the Chair.

Top tips

  1. writing-effective-meeting-minutes-top-tips

    Download copy of Top Tips to use later

    Prepare in advance. If you are the Minute taker it can be difficult to keep up with everything that happens if the meeting is fast moving, so try to prepare by having an agenda and an outline Minute document. You can just jot notes against that outline, which you can embellish later from memory. You can take notes by hand, or on a PC or tablet if your skills are up to it. You could even record the meeting to help ensure you get the details right.

  2. Make sure you have a copy of the previous meetings minutes if this is one of a series of meetings
  3. List the expected attendees in advance and tick them off as they arrive, or their apologies are received
  4. Jot your notes on the template you have as things happen. Just notes that will jog your memory. Make sure there is a decision or conclusion you can record. If you are not sure what the outcome was, ask for clarification during the, before the meeting moves on to the next point, or from the Chair immediately after the meeting.
  5. Write the Minutes up immediately after the meeting before you forget anything important.
  6. Write in the same tense and person all the way through the document. Include a short statement and a brief rationale for each decision or action taken
  7. Be objective. Do not make personal comments or observations
  8. Only use people’s names when recording voting activity.
  9. Record business decisions, remember this is a business document

Distribution and filing of minutes

Before you distribute the minutes, ask the Chair to review and approve them. Depending on the formality of the meeting and the culture of the company, it may be a good idea to print a hard copy and have it signed by the Chair before you distribute the minutes to everyone else.

Check with the Chair whether they want to distribute the Minutes, or if you should. If you are distributing them electronically, it is a good idea to create a pdf document for security.

Distribution will depend on the business tools used by your company .You may distribute hard copies, or you will probably distribute them electronically.
You could send them out by email, share them on google docs, use a cloud based system, or even use One Note or Evernote.

If you do receive corrections, record them and put them on the agenda for the next meeting and Minute taking session if this is a series of meetings. If not, remember to distribute the corrections required to attendees.

Remember to file a copy, either electronically or a hard copy. If you had the Chair sign a hard copy, this would be the best copy to file.